Here is an observation. I regularly convert whatever I love into my lifestyle, rather than just a hobby or a passion. If it is not part of my lifestyle, then I most probably don’t like it enough and will eventually give up on it.
What I mean
Over the years, there are so many activities that I have fallen in love with, invested a lot of time, experimented with, got better and worked into my lifestyle. While most people are happy to do those activities at a set time during the day (morning time is jogging time) or under set conditions (jogging exclusively at the city park wearing running clothes and shoes), I have made those activities permeate deep into me. Here are some examples.
- I love to ride my bicycle. It is in my lifestyle. Riding to the railway station to catch a train to meet my clients, riding to the grocery store for weekly grocery, riding to clear my moody thoughts, riding between two cities 160km apart to meet my sister, going for long rides with Priya (my wife) and so on. I ride nearly 2000 km every year, sometimes more. Recently I have taken up running in a similar way.
- Priya & I cook every meal at home, except when we are travelling. We are south Indians, but our cooking ranges from simple meals like Poha to exotic stuff like Kofta and Biryani to international dishes like home made hummus, ratatouille and pasta sauce. We look at non-vegetarian recipes and find ways to use vegetarian substitutes. We set ourselves challenges such as turning milk into cream within a minute (the secret: use rice flour!). It’s cooking gamified. Also, cooking time is when Priya & I bond together, talking, playing and listening to podcasts and discussing.
- I introduced meditation into my life quite recently. It started out as an exercise to clear out my brain’s train of thought early in the morning for 10 minutes so that it can take a step back and take stock. But once I noticed some more benefits such as instant relaxation and restedness, I started experimenting more frequently at every opportunity. I now do it when my motorbike is waiting for the traffic light to change, so that I won’t get edgy. I practice meditation for 10 minutes in the afternoon and it helps me not fall asleep (I don’t like the idea of afternoon naps 😀 ).
Now let’s see what you can do to turn activities into lifestyle.
Really love doing it
I have mentioned this in a few other blogs, especially in this one. The most important point is that you must really love an activity so that you can make it into a lifestyle. Sure, I think that bicycling makes me fit and that it causes zero pollution and that motivates me enough to keep doing it. But the biggest motivator is that I really love bicycling as an activity. I feel a state of joy and peace in the rhythm of my bicycle’s chains and pedals and it keeps bringing me back to the saddle. If I do not ride for a few days in a row, I start to terribly miss it. Some of the best moments of my life have been during my bicycle rides.
Dabble a little with self-teaching before taking up coaching
Barring extreme activities with risk to life, I would highly recommend experimenting with teaching yourself a new skill on your own. Whether it is learning languages (programming languages are included too 😉 ), cooking, electronics or personal finance. The act of teaching yourself, searching the Internet for tips, reading numerous books and articles, making mistakes, introducing corrections and building your own systems are all part of the game. Most skills can actually be self taught and do not need professional tutors unless you want to compete at a very professional level. Most of us never aim for such professional levels. E.g. We only want to use local languages to communicate with locals during our trips and stays. We only want to learn enough electronics to be able to fix our own gadgets. We only need enough personal finance lessons to be able to make our own money grow at a reasonably steady rate.
Self-teaching will also validate our interest in the activity. If we can find the discipline to learn and practice the activity every day, then we must be truly passionate about it. Maybe after we stick to it for a year, we can look to professional help to step up the game.
Find every opportunity to practice
This is the truest indicator of your passion for an activity. Are you using every possible opportunity to practice the activity that you so love? Do you absolutely love running? Need to get cash from the ATM which is 5 km away? Why not take the opportunity to run a 10K marathon? Need to buy a week’s supply of groceries? You don’t need a car boot for that. As a bicycle lover, wear a rucksack and pedal to the grocery store. Why make sweets for your sweet tooth only during special occasions and festivals? Put your cooking skills to the test and keep making some healthy sweets every week using items like dates and honey and use those sweets as a pre-workout carb boost everyday. Be the guitarist at every party and camping activity, instead of just within your daily practice band .
Be open to sharing and helping
While you are learning, enjoying and improving your beloved skill as a lifestyle, there are many others who are struggling to make a habit out of it, due to various concerns and contradictions. You can use your experience as a guide to help them get there too. Your personal stories with these skills can be shared on blogs, social media and get-togethers. It is amazing to see how people really get inspired and starting getting back on track.
In my case, a lot of people are concerned about leaving their clothes sweaty and soiled if they ride their bicycle to work. The solution is to ride in a set of casual clothes and change into clothes suitable for workplace after you get off the saddle. Similarly, bicycling to the grocery store with nothing more than a rucksack made people raise concerns too. Is a rucksack enough to carry all the weekly grocery? Doesn’t it feel heavy to carry all the grocery? The solution is to learn to pack like a trekker. Heavy items at the bottom, delicate ones at the top. Make a shopping list and strictly adhere to it to keep the load light.
While not strictly necessary, turning a beloved skill into a lifestyle rather than simply into a habit has made it more fulfilling for me and given me more opportunities to enjoy what I love to do. Do you too have such beloved skills that you have gradually worked into your lifestyle? How do you find opportunities and practice what you love? Let me know in your comments.